Unveiling the Paradox: Exploring the Inherent Misogyny in Marriage and Women's Choices
In a thought-provoking exploration, Clementine Ford challenges the deeply ingrained misogyny within the institution of marriage and questions why women continue to embrace it. From unraveling the questionable origins of the 'best man' tradition to highlighting the historical loss of property rights for women, Ford contends that marriage was never designed to benefit women. Instead of advocating for reform, she asserts that the only solution is to reject this inherently flawed institution.
Referencing Jia Tolentino's poignant essay, "I Thee Dread," Ford contemplates the allure of the wedding fantasy that often precedes the reality of marriage. Tolentino, reflecting on the wedding circus that dominates weekends, raises the question of whether women would find it harder to accept the realities of marriage without the romanticized spectacle of a wedding.
The financial toll of weddings becomes a focal point, emphasizing the exorbitant costs associated with celebrating a relationship sanctioned by the government. Ford sheds light on the wedding industrial complex, where the average cost of a celebration to legitimize a relationship can soar to staggering amounts. With financial burdens often leading to loans and credit card debts, couples may find themselves paying off their weddings long after they've finalized their divorces.
Ford boldly asserts that marriage, historically rooted in privileging men and lacking consideration for women's happiness, continues to be perpetuated as a societal norm. She challenges the notion that women must embrace marriage to avoid misery, citing sociological research that suggests men disproportionately benefit from marriage in terms of health, longevity, and economic prosperity. Contrary to this, studies indicate that married women may experience earlier mortality.
In a compelling critique, Ford raises fundamental questions about the societal pressure for women to conform to a tradition that, rather than ensuring happiness, often perpetuates inequality and disadvantage. As she dismantles the romanticized facade of marriage, Ford calls for a reevaluation of cultural narratives that have long overlooked the inherent flaws in this institution.
In the realm of divorce, the financial fallout disproportionately affects women, revealing a more perilous landscape. ASX research, drawing from various studies, starkly illustrates that women's incomes plummet by approximately 21-30% after divorce, taking an average of six years to recover. In contrast, men experience a brief income dip of about 5% before rebounding. This economic discrepancy can be attributed, in part, to the financial burden of raising children, encompassing both economic costs and the deprivation of economic opportunities.
Critiquing marriage, often deemed the "bedrock" of Western civilization, is met with resistance as it appears to be a personal affront to those who partake in it. Uncomfortable as it may be for those on the receiving end, engaging with critiques of institutions, particularly those with a lengthy history of oppression like marriage, is essential. While questioning life choices may cause discomfort, it pales in comparison to historical practices such as bride-napping among the Visigoths, leading to the establishment of the best man tradition. The best man, chosen for prowess in combat, served to fend off family members attempting to reclaim their "stolen" daughters.
Historical practices such as selling men in the middle ages or committing women to asylums further underscore the oppressive nature of marital traditions. Laws like coverture, denying women the right to property and identity, epitomize an era when women existed under the banner of male ownership. The fear of losing access to children, considered the property of the father, trapped women in marriages.
A lifetime of ridicule, mockery, and even criminalization for remaining unmarried adds another layer to the historical injustices faced by women. Instances like the persecution of unmarried women as witches during the European witch trials serve as stark reminders of the societal biases embedded in marital norms.
As contemporary discussions around marriage continue, acknowledging its historical baggage is crucial. Understanding the lingering impact of past injustices on the present can inform more equitable conversations and pave the way for a reevaluation of societal norms surrounding marriage and divorce.
In the face of readily available historical facts about marriage, the perplexing question emerges: why do women continue to subscribe to the romantic myth of lifelong bliss that this institution purportedly offers? This question forms the core of my upcoming book, "I Don't," an unflinching critique of marriage and the pervasive falsehoods that coax women into its service. From the era of empire building and the transactional nature of daughter trading to the modern trappings of engagement rings and the burgeoning wedding industry, every aspect of the marriage narrative, from its inception to the present day, is exposed as a deceitful construct.
Peeling back the layers of history and propaganda reveals the intrinsic misogyny woven into the fabric of marriage, prompting a compelling urge to dismantle this deceptive institution entirely. I often liken marriage to the ornate wagon in "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" that lures children in with its colorful exterior, only to strip away the bells and whistles, unveiling a cage within. Once women find themselves ensconced in it, the illusory allure fades, leaving behind a confining reality.
Despite the glaring flaws and historical injustices associated with marriage, there remains a persistent influx of articles and books pondering how to fix it, reimagine it, and improve it. The establishment of same-sex marriage rights, considered a victory for progressive politics, is critiqued for not truly radicalizing marriage. Instead, it is argued, it merely normalizes queer individuals within a regressive framework, conferring conservative status within an institution that once vehemently denied their entry.
As discussions about marriage continue to unfold, challenging its inherent flaws and reevaluating its societal significance becomes imperative. The myth of romantic bliss, long perpetuated by cultural narratives, deserves scrutiny, paving the way for a more honest and equitable dialogue about the institution of marriage.
Marriage, in its current form, stands as an irredeemable falsehood meticulously crafted to bind women in servitude to patriarchy, thwarting the realization of our full potential. The imperative now is to unequivocally reject it, steadfastly refusing to append our names to a roster primarily built on the backs of women bereft of choices, rights, and freedom. The lingering reality that many women still lack the freedom to make this choice autonomously, as highlighted by Jia Tolentino's own marriage for healthcare benefits, underscores the systemic coercion embedded in this institution. In essence, if the government resorts to bribing individuals into marriage, it is seldom in their best interest. To borrow from Mae West, while they keep touting marriage as a great institution, some of us are not ready for an institution; what we yearn for is a revolution. "I Don't" by Clementine Ford, available from Allen & Unwin, serves as a compelling call to dismantle the deceptive edifice of marriage and embrace a revolutionary reimagining of societal norms.
In conclusion, Clementine Ford's uncompromising stance in "I Don't" confronts the insidious nature of marriage as an unredeemable fabrication, devised to subjugate women and obstruct their journey toward realizing their full potential. Advocating for the outright rejection of this institution, Ford urges women to abstain from willingly contributing their names to a legacy built upon the historical disenfranchisement of women devoid of choices, rights, and freedom.
The persisting reality, wherein women are still coerced into marriage for pragmatic reasons like access to healthcare benefits, serves as a stark indictment of the systemic pressures embedded within the institution. Ford's astute observation that when governments resort to incentivizing marriage, it rarely aligns with the best interests of those involved, resonates as a poignant critique.
As Ford echoes Mae West's sentiment that she's not ready for an institution but yearns for a revolution, the call to reject the shackles of traditional norms reverberates. "I Don't" becomes a manifesto for those seeking liberation from a flawed institution, inviting readers to join in the pursuit of a transformative revolution that redefines societal norms and liberates individuals from the constraints of a deceptive and patriarchal construct.